EDITOR’S NOTE: “Window on The Week” acts as our weekly, quick-and-punchy, “between-the-issues” survey of the hot topics of the day. “Window on The Week” gives you a sense of what “The Week”–a popular feature that appears fortnightly in National Review–looks like.
#-# It wasn’t a full-fledged shakeup, but things rattled a bit in the White House this week. New chief of staff Josh Bolten has made it clear he will overhaul the lobbying and communications operations, both of which desperately needed improvement. The Dubai ports deal was perhaps the low point in the White House’s relations with congressional Republicans; many GOP lawmakers felt dissed by the president and weren’t inclined to defend him when the White House wouldn’t even take time to explain its actions. As for communications, the next two and a half years promise to be contentious, and the White House press corps will be firing away full blast. The president needs someone who can handle them–and occasionally put them in their place–with more ease than outgoing press secretary Scott McClellan, a good man and loyal aide who was never the best public face for the White House. Finally, as far as Karl Rove is concerned, we’re happy he’ll be devoting more time to the midterm elections. Rove did masterful work in 2002 and 2004, and now he has one more job to do.
#-# Chinese president Hu Jintao, standing on the south lawn of the White House with President Bush, was heckled by a protester objecting to China’s persecution of Falun Gong. This moment captured something of the contradiction of modern China. On one hand, its powerful military and growing economy make it impossible to ignore and undesirable to alienate. On the other, it brutally suppresses political opposition, denies its people freedom of religion and expression, and acts irresponsibly on a range of security issues–as witness its insouciance over Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs and its bellicosity toward Taiwan. Dealing with China, then, is no easy thing. But President Bush has gotten it basically right. He knows that trade has been beneficial to both countries and he has resisted protectionist outcries, recognizing that our trade deficit has little to do with China’s “depressing” its currency and will fall as Chinese wages rise. At the same time, he hasn’t been shy about showing muscle on security issues–whether by slapping sanctions on Chinese companies that violate proliferation rules or counterbalancing Beijing by strengthening ties with other regional powers. The wisest long-term strategy is to promote the economic conditions that will lead China’s people to exact liberal reforms from their government, while maintaining the military capacity to deter any aggression in the meantime. We’re on the right track.
#-# When the Senate returns next week, it will resume efforts to reach a compromise on immigration, beginning with a Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday. Given that committee’s recent attempts to pile amnesty on top of amnesty, we’re not optimistic. Meanwhile, Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff says that Wednesday’s raid on a pallet-supply company for hiring illegals is the beginning of a campaign to target employers that break the law. That’s a good sign, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Bush administration–like its predecessors–has preferred to treat immigration laws as though they didn’t exist. If employers are to change their hiring practices, they must see that this week’s actions represent a new enforcement climate rather than a temporary concession to political expediency.
#-# Former House majority leader Tom DeLay won a partial vindication from an appeals court this week. For those who haven’t followed this tangled saga, here’s a summary. Travis County district attorney Ronnie Earle persuaded a grand jury to indict DeLay for conspiracy to violate the Texas election code, but shortly thereafter learned that DeLay would file a motion to dismiss this indictment on the grounds that the Texas election code didn’t exist when the alleged violation took place. Seeing that this was a compelling defense, Earle asked a second grand jury to indict DeLay for money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Unimpressed by Earle’s weak case, it declined to give him what he wanted. So with only days left to beat a statute of limitations, Earle convened a third grand jury, which, in the event, proved more obliging. As expected, a lower court dismissed the first indictment. But rather than try DeLay on the third grand jury’s indictments right away, Earle appealed the lower court’s rejection of the first indictment. This tactic was legally hopeless but politically shrewd: By delaying the trial, which is unlikely to produce a conviction, Earle denied DeLay a quick vindication and forced him to resign his leadership role–and eventually his seat–in the House. On Wednesday, as expected, an appeals court upheld the lower court’s dismissal of the first indictment. We feel confident predicting that this is only the first of several legal victories to come for DeLay–but, alas, they will come too late to shield him from the consequences of Earle’s guile.
#-# Two Iraqi brothers write a blog called Iraq the Model, on which they report and comment on the situation in Iraq. One of the brothers, Mohammed, recently wrote that his brother-in-law had been murdered. A doctor, this man had dreamed of opening a medical center for poor Iraqis. He succeeded in establishing a clinic, but the day he celebrated its opening was the day of his death. Says Mohammed, “The terrorists and criminals are targeting all elements of life and they target anyone who wants to do something good for this country. . . . They think by assassinating one of us they could deter us from going forward but will never succeed, they can delay us for years but we will never go back and abandon our dream.” We persevere in Iraq because we hope eventually to leave the country to voices like these.
#-# People are endlessly wringing their hands over the supposed complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But this headline pretty much says it all: Suicide Bombing in Israel Kills 9; Hamas Approves
#-# This year’s Pulitzer Prizes continued the disheartening trend of celebrating journalism that compromises national security. Among the winners were the New York Times reporters who exposed the NSA terrorist-surveillance program and the Washington Post reporter who compromised our European allies by revealing the existence of overseas terrorist-detention centers. (In case you’re not sure about the Pulitzer Board’s politics, they also give the criticism prize to the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan for her “achievement” of mocking the wardrobes of Dick Cheney, Harriet Miers, and the wife and children of John Roberts while gushing over the fashion choices of John Kerry and John Edwards.) To journalists falls the important task of telling hard truths, some of which may reveal things our government would prefer that we not know. But having a right to print something isn’t the same as having an obligation to do so. With the power of journalism comes a responsibility to ask whether publishing a story will harm our national security in ways that far outweigh whatever good might come of it. But the Pulitzer Board seems unaware that there is a balance to be struck. Or maybe they just don’t care.
#-# A woman hired to strip at an off-campus party for the Duke lacrosse team says that she was raped by three players, and the case chased even Barry Bonds off the TV news. The dancer was black, and all but one of Duke’s lacrosse players were white, so there is a racial angle. The dancer is a 27-year-old unmarried mother of two; the lacrosse players are big men on a prestigious campus, so there is also a class angle. There is, finally, the question that the legal system is charged to answer–did a crime occur, and if so, who committed it? Two of the players have been charged, but we are still in what might be called the media discovery phase, where all information is produced by pre-trial jockeying. Before it leaves our screens, we should ask, Is it cool for lacrosse teams to hire strippers to entertain them, even if they are not raped? Boys will be boys, of course, but when do they start to become men?
#-# The annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn drew thousands of parents and children, as it has for 130 years now. This time, however, 200 or so of the parents were wearing artificial leis in rainbow colors. Why thus distinguish themselves? Well, these were homosexual couples, asserting their right to participate, together with the children they are raising, in this traditional family event. Could they not have participated just as well without the colorful leis? Ah, but then their presence might have gone unnoticed, their numbers unremarked. Were they not, then, shamelessly politicizing a formerly apolitical event designed not to promote anyone’s “lifestyle,” but to give harmless pleasure to innocents? Perish the thought! Who would be so cynically manipulative as to do such a thing?